The penultimate round of this year’s FIM World Motocross Championship visited the fast hillside circuit of St. Jean d’Angely, France this weekend, as the gate dropped on the MXGP of Charente Maritime.
Although Team HRC’s Tim Gajser was crowned 2022 MXGP World Champion last weekend in Finland, racers always like to win, so for the team and for Gajser it was business as usual.
In MXGP race one ‘Tiga’ got off to a good start and rounded lap one in third place. The fast paced and challenging French circuit proved to be a big challenge to make passes this weekend and every position gained was a battle of attrition. Tim slipped into second place on lap four and went on to challenge hard for the race win. Despite a last lap charge he crossed the line less than a second away from the win, but proved his pedigree with a champion’s class performance.
Australian Mitch Evans also had a great start in moto one, starting lap one in fourth place and looking fast, strong and confident. He defended his position well throughout the race whilst under pressure from other riders. On lap 14 an unfortunate tip-over dropped Evans down to seventh where he again came under pressure from world-class MXGP competitors, but held onto his position to the end.
Team Honda 114 Motorsport’s Rubén Fernández continued his progression back to fitness and full race speed today. After a fighting race one the Spaniard crossed the line in 12th place, still someway off his potential.
In the MX2 class Shiptocycle Honda SR Motoblouz’s Stephen Rubini had another tough GP this weekend. Although his laps time were quick, the Frenchman didn’t find his form in the qualifying race, which gave him a poor start-gate choice for Sunday’s motos. Despite this Rubini pushed up from 10th on lap to finish the race in eighth with hopes for improvement at his home GP in race two.
As the gate dropped for MXGP race two, Gajser and Evans didn’t quite get around the first turn in the leading group and gave themselves an unenviable task to push forward. Gajser drew first-blood and slammed his CRF450R into fourth place on lap two, but the excitement was left right until the end. Firstly, the Slovenian pushed into third and set about an effective flow and momentum that would prove to be both devastating and decisive for the race and the overall - and he really saved his best until last. Two magnificent last lap passes came one after another taking him from third to first. Not only did he win the race, but the five-time World Champion took the overall win to the delight of Team HRC and his growing fan following.
Evans had another frustrating moto the second time out today. He struggled to find his flow and eventually came home in 11th, giving him ninth overall. Meanwhile Rubén Fernández faired a little better in the second race today, firstly with a slightly better start which gave him a good flow to bring it home it ninth for 11th overall.
Stephen Rubini’s illness woes continued in MX2 moto two and although he started the race, his stomach pain and discomfort was too severe to continue. Although he didn’t finished the race, the low rider numbers meant he scored two points from moto two and finished the day in 13th overall. Stephen will seek medical advice this week to try to identify the cause of the pain.
The final round for this year’s season visits the Afyonkarahisar circuit for the BitCi MXGP of Turkey in two week’s time.